EU candidates rush to give up their perks

June 8, 2004 at 11:30 AM
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BRUSSELS, June 8 (UPI) -- In response to growing voter complaints, hundreds of European Parliament candidates are jostling to sign away the lavish fringe benefits incumbents have.

More than 200 candidates have signed a pledge in nine languages with the Campaign for Parliament Reform to abandon privileges such as chauffeured cars, and daily and monthly stipends that can add tens of thousands of dollars to basic salaries, the International Herald Tribune said Tuesday.

Other benefits include jobs for relatives paid through a secretarial allowance of $184,000 and a travel allowance that can reimburse legislators for as much as 10 times the price of their airline tickets.

The abuse of the system was recorded on videotape by Austrian legislator Hans-Peter Martin, who secretly filmed legislators in candid conversations to expose the inner workings of the institution.

In the elections that run from Thursday through Sunday, voters across Europe will choose 732 members of the parliament to represent 25 countries.

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